Archive | May, 2012

The Making of a Memory

30 May

I am learning.

Now isn’t the above statement beautiful?  I think so, which is why I choose to give the three little words a line to themselves.  It is a true statement.  And the word, “still”, is blatantly omitted; its implication unnecessary, given the intent of the meaning.  I am learning…


I believe it was January of 2010, perhaps December 2009, when my husband Brian, daughter Esther, and I attended the United States Marine Corps School of Infantry graduation ceremony of my son, Cole.  We took, along with us, the grandmother of my husband.  Granny, we called her.  In fact everyone who knew her called her “Granny”.  She was 83, and for the first time in his 44 years, Brian noticed her mannerisms–walking, breathing, and the like–resembled that of her moniker.  She was a Rosie the Riveter of WWII, a beauty and a powerhouse of a woman.  In her eighties she could out-lift me!  I know this because she would often corral me into helping her move a heavy, solid wood, piece of furniture from one end of her house to the other.  Bad knee and all–hers that is, not mine!  So it was quite shocking to see this grand woman needing ambulation assistance from the car to the bleachers where we sat for the ceremonial debut of Cole, the grunt (the Marine Corps sure goes to lengthy strides in ushering out the pomp and circumstance upon the young grads, only to send them out to the front lines of Afghanistan.  But that is another story, not the one I am telling here!).

Yet to the bleachers we went, though Granny took a trip over the legs of another person who happened to stretch his out just as she was passing by his seat.  Between Brian and myself we caught her, but the increased pressure the near fall caused her, already sore knee, was apparent.  With her discomfort in mind, I sat close to her so as to keep a watchful eye upon the, now fragile, woman.  I confess, I was a bit irritated at her insistence upon joining us, especially as her fragility was now an issue.  In my selfishness, I wanted to only focus on my son without having distractions.  But I did get over myself and took on the perspective of gratitude that this woman, in all her discomfort, wanted to support the accomplishment of her great-grandson.  Cole and his Granny were a special pair, and her being there was absolutely as it should be.

As the ceremony began, as it continued, and as it ended many tunes were played.  I had the privilege, because I was next to the woman, to witness Granny stand up as if on a twenty year old knee and sing every word of each patriotic song, then sit down again as if the call to action was no imposition to her worn out legs.  Not only did she sing, she sang with tears in her eyes and her hand over her heart.  She sang without shame, and a glimmer of something precious was in her eye.  A glimmer I did not possess.  In that moment, I envied the sense of patriotism Granny exuded.  I still do.  And I have never forgotten it as it is my impetus to better understand the motivating gratitude from which it was generated.

Now on Monday of this past week, Memorial Day, Cole requested we go to the Marine Corps Park in San Clemente to pay tribute to his fallen brothers.  So that morning, I took him to purchase the flowers he wanted (the type had been discussed in detail previous to the day so I knew what we were after).  And Brian, Esther, Cole, and I hopped into our 1956 Ford and headed south to the park (not to be confused with the show, ‘southpark’).  To get there we had to go around a Memorial Day blockade and be subject to the rude interaction from one of the traffic volunteers.  We then found the one handicap space available which put Cole’s side of the car directly into the bushes making it difficult for him to navigate his balance, his cane, the car door, the incline, and the shrub all at once (not to worry, we watched–just kidding, helped).  We then made it across the lot to the park.  Cole stood quietly with his cane, his dad by his side.  We placed the flowers at the foot of the Marine statue and then Brian asked Cole if he would like for him to read the devotion of the day from his devotional book.  The answer was, “yes”.  We then read every plaque and name imprinted on the statue and the surrounding wall.  I sat down on a bench with Esther as Brian offered to read the inscriptions to his son–the ones Cole’s poor eyesight kept him from reading for himself.  All the while, I couldn’t help feeling choked up.  In fact, I had to wipe away many a gratitude-filled tear.  And I remembered Granny, her beaming face, her gaze at the USA flag, and her knowledge of every word to every song sung at Cole’s SOI graduation.  I could feel the appreciation for the willingness of a stranger to give of his/her life for the benefit of others–the awe that my son is among them.  And I could feel the sorrow of the loss of each family who had a name on a plaque, while understanding more passionately the miracle of having Cole still with us.

Brian tore the page from his devotional and left it under the flowers; right next to a handwritten note from a Vietnam Vet paying tribute as well.  It was difficult, in our silence and humility, to know when to leave…though Cole helped with that as his stomach was calling the shots.

I am learning, and presently my son is the one teaching.

United States Marine Corps Park, San Clemente, CA

The Normal Translation

22 May

I have spent the majority of this day and last night’s eve contemplating my feelings of exhaustion.  Especially as I have had the good fortune of receiving more than an adequate nights sleep, several nights in succession.  Mind you, I am continuing my ‘full function’ of the days activities, but all the while dealing with the feeling of needing a nap.  The ideas I wrestle with are as minimally invasive as ‘do I need to take vitamins?’, to the more intrusive, ‘perhaps I have cancer’, thoughts.  To which I answer in the following manner; ‘if I do need vitamins I’m out of luck because I never follow through with taking them–yuck!’ AND, ‘if I do have cancer eating away at some part of my body, then I guess I’ll be dead in about a year.’  I know, I know, not exactly the type of “proactive” mentality I normally purport having.  I assure you, however, I examine my answers utilizing the most lighthearted thought process even though what comes forth resembles a rather melancholic tone.

At any rate, tonight I have discovered the source of my sandbags, the dip in my dew, the dent in my hull…otherwise considered the cause of my fatigue.  My new “normal” lives cautiously afloat the fragility of the health of my son, Cole.  And in my constant attendance to his well being, whether that attendance is in thought or deed, I see that I shoulder an amount of emotional stress which translates to–or manifests as–the demise of my stamina.  For instance, the fixed appointments of the day had to be cancelled due to Cole having had a hard night, last night.  His hard night was a result of severe nausea and abdominal pain.  And today, he tells me he has back pain and his symptoms increase when he lies down–the upset stomach symptoms.

Now in families where there has not been the trauma of a brain tumor thrust into their “normal”, nausea and abdominal pain equates to the flu or food poisoning…or quite possibility, appendicitis.  But not in my normal.  In MY normal, severe nausea and abdominal pain with an increase of symptomatology upon prostration means….need I really point it out?!

Entonces aqui estoy sentado al lado de mi hijo tratando tener confianza, fe, y esperanza en lo que no debe ser mi ‘normal’.  Espero que el tiene el gripe y nada mas.  Pero aqui estoy sentado, mirando, esperando, finjo tranquilidad pero con la sabiduría que quizas mas tarde o mañana vamos tener que visitar un doctor.  Y con ese normal, es dificil sentirme tranquilizo.

Did you catch that?  If not, the base of the meaning (though you can cut and paste into an online translator if you so desire), is that my norm is in constant motion.  And though I sit here on my couch wearing the appearance of docility, I am actually a good example of Newton’s laws of motion…perpetual and constant.  Which can quite possibly have a draining effect.  And being I have this new realization or epiphany (choosing to use the word wrapped in religion vs. simply derived from the French language), I will stop my ignorant complaints, for knowledge has filled the void of ignorance and to go about my days in wonderment as before, would be to act the fool.  ‘Oi Vay’… a tired fool is the worst of its kind!  And we don’t need a translator for that–she looks the same in any language! 😉  No, that will not be me.  I will attempt to embrace the fatigue and contemplate it no more.

“the sweet surrender to Norm”

**for those of you receiving this update on iphone or through email, I do have a youtube song attachment included.  …Enjoy!

Who’s That Girl?

19 May

I have found myself, of late, with some extra time on my hands…actually, in my schedule.  Periodically I will have one day in the week, sometimes two back to back, where the square box on the monthly calendar is literally blank.  Now mind you, there is ALWAYS work needing to be done even when the scheduler is devoid of listed appointments.  Such as papers awaiting an organizational interlude, laundry (not just clothes, linens and towels too) in need of soap and water, walls so smudged they are doubling as finger-printing devices, dust bunnies multiplying as often as their animalia counterpart, weeds, weeds, and more weeds always awaiting their demise (though they are, more often than not, winning the battle), windows and mirrors longing, begging, aching for a nominal assertion of ‘spit and polish’, AND many more perfunctory tasks that if I don’t stop listing them now will, I fear, cause me to lose my reading audience.  For the mere listing of them will remind one, perhaps two-three-or four, readers of a mundane chore awaiting their attention as well.

Yet regardless of the ever present occupations, the ones that call to me regularly, there are days when the outside forces, which pull me from my domesticity, are quieted.  And when I come upon one such day, and in choosing to ignore the aforementioned “to do’s” , I find myself wondering…Who am I anymore?…

  • Do I still like swimming in the ocean?
  • Why am I not wanting to go rowing?
  • Why am I enjoying the quiet so much?
  • What do I ‘enjoy’ eating?
  • Do I like swimming?
  • Do I still like roller coasters?
  • Am I interested in finishing my undergraduate degree?
  • Where would I like to work if I had to go out and get a job?
  • Am I going to be able to handle old age?
  • Do I like gardening?
  • Do I still like hiking?
  • Should I keep my hair short, or grow it out long again?
  • Am I inspired?
  • If I didn’t live where I am living, where would I want to live?
  • Why am I not motivated to get my bicycle tires fixed?
  • Why do I always want to get lost in IKEA?
  • How do I avoid using words such as: so, all, got, and, but, etc.
  • When will I again be ready to read a novel, short story, or play?

The contemplations above are nothing compared to the strange phenomenon that comes over me when I spend the first part of the day piddling around the house.  The phenom being, I lose ALL motivation to leave it (it being my home).  In fact, I have had to drudge up some serious creativity just to execute a proper meal for my family–as a result of forgoing the trip to the grocery store because leaving the house was too daunting a task.  Additionally, I have had fantasies of visiting varying friends, on my ‘calendar-free’ days, only to lose the ambition when the day actually presents the opportunity.  And yes, I realize this past year has been a full spectrum run of events; but don’t you think I should be higher functioning by now?  Especially as I have been given several days of rest from time to time?  Especially as Cole is more capable and independent (in his self-care)?  Well regardless of your answer, I personally feel I should be at a higher level of energy…at the very least I desire a higher level of functionality.

Even so, with bereft vigor, I do what I must and is necessary to keep order and semblance of a productive life.  All the while unable to evade my own introspection…who’s that girl, running around with you?  And though I share my ruminations, you need not trouble yourselves in attempt to procure for me a resolution.  I assure you, I will find her.  She is not far off I think, only slightly derailed…perhaps a bit exhausted. 😉

P.s. My musings are inward focused and not to be projected, in any manner, toward any one individual outside of myself.

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